George + Leon’s Review, Freeport Restaurants

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes a review of George + Leon’s.

But George & Leon’s (named for Abbey’s dog and his young son, respectively) has emerged from adversity with a renewed respect for its team and better, more consistent food served at appropriate temperatures. If you visit, order a glass of natural wine to go with your traditional Super Beef sandwich, a softball-sized monster of a sandwich packed with pink beef, James River BBQ sauce, and white American cheese. Get it as a “4-way,” if you enjoy crisp onion rings. If you’re not in the mood for beef, the homemade chicken finger sub and the umami-overloaded, brown-butter-and-mushroom sub are also top-notch options.

The paper also takes an in-depth look at the Freeport restaurant scene and the factors holding it back from further growth.

While restaurateurs seem drawn like moths these days to the bright heat of the Greater Portland food scene, many in the town of Freeport feel underserved by the comparatively lackluster dining choices, especially for a sit-down meal.

Solo Cucina Market for Sale

Owners of the Solo Cucina Market in South Portland have announced that the market is for sale. The announcement on instagram reads in part,

To our dear community: we have some challenging news to share. After a very positive year for Solo Cucina, we have had to make a difficult choice of putting the market up for sale. This is not because the market and what it offers is not deeply valued. To the contrary, and we have been honored by the community’s enthusiasm for the market’s offerings and your ongoing support and patronage…

And goes on to share that,

…This was our first year seeing tangible growth and progress, but building the market came with some legacy liabilities that we have been unable to sufficiently overcome. We also feel that we are a bit stretched thin and don’t want to do a disservice to the concept or to you, the community. A market as locally relevant and specialized as Solo Cucina that supports a dedicated year round community deserves full attention on behalf of its visionaries…

The market opened on March 25, 2020. A final day in business has not been set yet. See the announcement for whom interested parties should contact for details on a purchase.

Solo Cucina is part of a family of businesses that also include Solo Italiano in Portland and Solo Pane e Pasticceria in Bath.

CBD Employees Seek to Unionize

The Press Herald reports that the employees at Coffee by Design are seeking to form a union.

Baristas at Coffee By Design’s three coffeehouses in Portland announced Tuesday that they will try to form a union.

The baristas say that 89% of the retail workforce in Portland signed cards authorizing Local 327 of the Laborers’ International Union of North America to seek voluntary recognition of a union.

FoodTech Maine Program

The Maine Center for Entrepreneurs has announced the first cohort of businesses participating in their FoodTech Maine business accelerator program.

FoodTech Maine connects and fosters collaboration among early-stage and mid-sized companies, that are innovating and developing AgriFood industry services or products, to commercialize and scale their businesses and grow this industry in Maine. The program provides resources, expertise, and networking opportunities to enable participating companies to thrive and contribute to Maine’s robust FoodTech ecosystem.

This first set of participants include a very interesting set of companies:

  • Everything Seaweed – “creating and promoting sustainable use of products made from seaweed”.
  • Cap N Stem – produces “wholesale USDA Certified organic mushroom substrate spawn and cultivation content”.
  • Maine Garum Company – produces “umami sauces with fish processing waste”. @mainegarumco
  • Ocean Farm Suply – produces shellfish harvest bags from 100% beechwood cellulose fiber.
  • Salmonics –  develops biomedical products derived from salmon blood.
  • Springtide Seaweed – provide organic seaweed products, nursery supplies and seeds, and consulting.
  • Tootie’s Tempeh – organic tempeh using locally grown soy beans.

Beard Awards: Open Call for Recommendations

As in past years, the James Beard Foundation has posted an open call for recommendations for the awards committee to consider when building the list of semifinalists for the 2024 chef and restaurant awards program. The deadline to submit recommendations is November 30th.

We’re looking for chefs, creators, food system leaders, and more who could be the next James Beard Award winners! Whether you published a cookbook in the last year, own a restaurant, or advocate for food system change, we encourage you to submit your entries and recommend your talented colleagues.

Reference this PDF for guidelines on the chef and restaurant awards categories.

To create an account and submit your recommendations visit:

Owl & Elm Review, Prepared Meal Services

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes a review of Owl & Elm in Yarmouth, and

The gochujang-and-passionfruit double whammy in the Take a Walk makes it a wonderful cocktail to pair with food. Try it with the blueberry-and-arugula panzanella (which is really just a satisfying, creamy salad with some crunch) or the brioche-topped duck burger (but ask for the duck egg on the side). While you’re at it, order a basket of house-cut french fries to satisfy all the people at your table who’ll fight you for them. While the food isn’t yet up to snuff, enjoy the atmosphere, which is pure, medical-grade fun and laughter. The menu, I hope, will catch up soon.

an article about the prepared meal services with details on six of them that are available in Maine.

We talked with Ventura and the owners of six Maine-based prepared meal companies about the particulars of their operations (all except one offers delivery) to help you find one that matches your particular needs. Whether you’re health-minded, seeking plant-based options, are a senior with a medical condition, or just a busy family that needs some crowd-pleasing comfort food, there’s a service here that can help.

5th Anniversary of Cider Club

Cider Club Portland celebrated its fifth anniversary earlier this summer with a exceptional tasting of US and international ciders. The event that highlighted the progress made in cider appreciation and access over the past half decade.

The regular gathering of cider and apple folks was launched in 2018 by Sean Turley (instagram) initially as a way for local cider enthusiasts to share their passion and collaboratively taste ciders. The group has continued to evolve and now serves as an industry-focused gathering for cider producers and hospitality professionals. It has become an important crossroads for information and a networking event as much as a way to experience a diverse range of ciders and perrys that participants bring to share.

Turley shared his observation on the group’s anniversary, “It has been amazing to see cider grow so significantly in Maine over the last five years and the profound improvement in the quality of cider being produced across the country. Cider is in the same place as American wine in the 1970s, and the future is tremendously bright. It is such a pleasure too be involved with a group dedicating to helping cider realize its potential.”

A key philosophy that Turley established from the start is that all ciders—even ones that may likely be less than special—deserve to be tasted at the meetings and have something to teach. The group has collectively tasted 250+ ciders sourced from 10 countries and 18 states.

Maine now has 25 active producers with more various stages of development. According to IBISWorld there are 2,834 cider production businesses in the US as of 2023 which represents an increase of 13.6% from 2022. It’s exciting to imagine what the Maine cider industry will become and how the Cider Club organization can grow with it over the next five years.

If you are a beverage professional interested in more information on Cider Club, contact

Boba Tea in Maine

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes an article on the growing interest in and opportunities to buy boba tea in Maine.

The boba boom has hit Maine for sure. At least five new bubble tea shops have opened in the state since November, including Kim Boba Tea & Coffee on Mellen Street and Lecha on Stevens Avenue in Portland, as well as farther-flung locations like Quickly Boba Café in Brunswick, Boba OOB in Old Orchard Beach, and Bubble Tea Café all the way up in Presque Isle.

The drink is also on the menu at many local Asian restaurants, like Keg and Kraken or Crunchy Poke, and has even been sold at major chains like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts.